Investigate the smallest number of moves it takes to turn these mats upside-down if you can only turn exactly three at a time.
Cut four triangles from a square as shown in the picture. How many different shapes can you make by fitting the four triangles back together?
How many triangles can you make using sticks that are 3cm, 4cm and 5cm long?
You have 4 red and 5 blue counters. How many ways can they be placed on a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows columns and diagonals have an even number of red counters?
What happens when you try and fit the triomino pieces into these two grids?
Hover your mouse over the counters to see which ones will be removed. Click to remove them. The winner is the last one to remove a counter. How you can make sure you win?
Are all the possible combinations of two shapes included in this set of 27 cards? How do you know?
Use the interactivity to help get a feel for this problem and to find out all the possible ways the balls could land.
Is it possible to place 2 counters on the 3 by 3 grid so that there is an even number of counters in every row and every column? How about if you have 3 counters or 4 counters or....?
How many trapeziums, of various sizes, are hidden in this picture?
Start with three pairs of socks. Now mix them up so that no mismatched pair is the same as another mismatched pair. Is there more than one way to do it?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.
Swap the stars with the moons, using only knights' moves (as on a chess board). What is the smallest number of moves possible?
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to develop the skills of strategic planning.
10 space travellers are waiting to board their spaceships. There are two rows of seats in the waiting room. Using the rules, where are they all sitting? Can you find all the possible ways?
Use the clues to find out who's who in the family, to fill in the family tree and to find out which of the family members are mathematicians and which are not.
Place eight dots on this diagram, so that there are only two dots on each straight line and only two dots on each circle.
Arrange 9 red cubes, 9 blue cubes and 9 yellow cubes into a large 3 by 3 cube. No row or column of cubes must contain two cubes of the same colour.
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
Sitting around a table are three girls and three boys. Use the clues to work out were each person is sitting.
The Zargoes use almost the same alphabet as English. What does this birthday message say?
Seven friends went to a fun fair with lots of scary rides. They decided to pair up for rides until each friend had ridden once with each of the others. What was the total number rides?
Put 10 counters in a row. Find a way to arrange the counters into five pairs, evenly spaced in a row, in just 5 moves, using the rules.
What is the best way to shunt these carriages so that each train can continue its journey?
Can you shunt the trucks so that the Cattle truck and the Sheep truck change places and the Engine is back on the main line?
What is the smallest number of jumps needed before the white rabbits and the grey rabbits can continue along their path?
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.
These are the faces of Will, Lil, Bill, Phil and Jill. Use the clues to work out which name goes with each face.
Use the information to describe these marbles. What colours must be on marbles that sparkle when rolling but are dark inside?
Can you find out in which order the children are standing in this line?
Take a rectangle of paper and fold it in half, and half again, to make four smaller rectangles. How many different ways can you fold it up?
The Vikings communicated in writing by making simple scratches on wood or stones called runes. Can you work out how their code works using the table of the alphabet?
How many different triangles can you draw on the dotty grid which each have one dot in the middle?
These activities focus on finding all possible solutions so working in a systematic way will ensure none are left out.
If you put three beads onto a tens/ones abacus you could make the numbers 3, 30, 12 or 21. What numbers can be made with six beads?
El Crico the cricket has to cross a square patio to get home. He can jump the length of one tile, two tiles and three tiles. Can you find a path that would get El Crico home in three jumps?
A merchant brings four bars of gold to a jeweller. How can the jeweller use the scales just twice to identify the lighter, fake bar?
Nina must cook some pasta for 15 minutes but she only has a 7-minute sand-timer and an 11-minute sand-timer. How can she use these timers to measure exactly 15 minutes?
Make a pair of cubes that can be moved to show all the days of the month from the 1st to the 31st.
Place eight queens on an chessboard (an 8 by 8 grid) so that none can capture any of the others.
Can you see who the gold medal winner is? What about the silver medal winner and the bronze medal winner?
Number problems for lower primary that will get you thinking.
Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
Chandra, Jane, Terry and Harry ordered their lunches from the sandwich shop. Use the information below to find out who ordered each sandwich.
This article for primary teachers suggests ways in which to help children become better at working systematically.
Ben and his mum are planting garlic. Can you find out how many cloves of garlic they might have had?
These activities lend themselves to systematic working in the sense that it helps if you have an ordered approach.
Six friends sat around a circular table. Can you work out from the information who sat where and what their profession were?
These activities focus on finding all possible solutions so if you work in a systematic way, you won't leave any out.